Señora Gerta

How a Viennese Jew Fooled the Nazis While Fleeing to Panama

With a movie like coup Gerta Stern fooled the Nazis and freed her husband.

Gerta Stern’s story is one of adventure, true love, dauntless courage and selfless heroism. The daughter of one of Vienna’s most prominent Jewish families, Gerta seems destined for fame and fortune. She becomes an actress, quickly rising through the ranks to become the 'it girl' of 1920s Vienna. With her marriage to professional footballer Moses Stern, Gerta’s happiness seems complete. But as the national mood grows increasingly anti-Semitic, the young couple decides to leave Austria. In Hamburg, as they wait desperately to receive their South African visas, Moses is arrested and sent to a concentration camp.
Gerta marches fearlessly into the Gestapo’s headquarters. Willing to do whatever it takes to save Moses, she uses the only resource left to her: her acting ability. Moses is released from the camp, seriously injured, and Gerta has a chance meeting with a man posing as a Nazi, who offers to help them. A 'Mr Otto' from the shipping company Norddeutscher Lloyd risks his life to get Gerta and Moses on board a boat to Panama.

Today Seňora Gerta, as she is affectionately known in Panama City, is probably the liveliest centenarian in the world. And journalist Anne Siegel managed to give her the most unusual present for her 100th birthday: After all those years she succeeded in finally uncovering the identity of the tall German man from Hamburg who helped Gerta and Moses escape to Panama.

Reviews

»Anne Siegel's portrait about fearless Jewish exile Gerta Stern is so endearingly vivacious that you immediately want to add Señora Gerta to your personal list of role models.«

»A breathtaking biography!«

»A biography as thrilling as a novel.«

»This story about the dangerous flight of a Jewish woman sets an example on courage, hope and humanity.«

»With a movie-like coup Jewish Gerta Stein fooled the Nazis - and so saved her husband.«

»A most unusual and vivid testimony of our history. A book full of warmth and with attention to detail. And a gripping read!«

»A book about a great love, courage and an unshakeable belief in oneself and others. Highly emotional, touching and fun, this biography presents an important piece of contemporary history.«

»Anne Siegel's trademark is life stories, extraordinary life stories, helping us to change our perception of history by adding new aspects.«

»Much more than a biography, SEÑORA GERTA gives an insight into politics, culture and current affairs of the past hundred years.«

»Religion, hope, courage. And chutzpah!«

»This book about the lively and active 101-year-old Gerta Stern is a stroke of luck - in every way.«

»Outshines many a crime novel with captivating suspense.«

»To narrate this life of a whole century with such cineastic suspense is masterly.«

»This biography masterly and effectively switches between a gripping thriller and documentary facts. The secret about Mr Otto and the spectacular escape from Germany are movie material.«


Anne Siegel

Anne Siegel is an award winning filmmaker, author, TV and radio journalist and writer. She lives in San Francisco and Cologne/Germany and has worked as a foreign correspondent in Israel and Palestine, produced features in Iceland, Denmark, Great Britain, the United States and North Africa. She is also the co-creator of several German comedy TV shows and in addition wrote, directed and produced a number of documentaries as well as video-installations and radio plays.